The 2021 and 2022 seasons could not have been more different for the SF Giants. The 2021 team vastly exceeded expectations, whereas the 2022 team fell short of the playoffs while having a roster that was problematic in a lot of areas. However, in at least one area, the Giants will be in a similar boat as last offseason as it pertains to one of the top starting pitchers on the market and they cannot make the same mistake.
The SF Giants cannot make this same mistake as last offseason
Carlos Rodón is expected to opt out of the one year and $22 million remaining on the two-year, $44 million contract he signed last offseason. His contract included an opt-out clause that would be realized if he exceeded 110 innings pitched, which he met midway through the season.
The Giants fully expect the left-handed hurler to opt out, which should come as no surprise as he will immediately become one of the top pitching targets on the market.
San Francisco was in a similar position last offseason with Kevin Gausman. Gausman was superb in his two seasons with the Giants, registering a 3.00 ERA, 3.02 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and a 4.64 SO/W ratio in a combined 45 appearances. This included an NL All-Star bid and a sixth-place finish in the NL Cy Young voting last year.
He had not only become a popular player among fans, but he revitalized his career in San Francisco after having a really disappointing season in 2019. When he became a free agent last offseason, it felt like there would be mutual interest in a reunion. Perhaps, there was some but just not on the terms that Gausman and his agent were expecting.
The right-handed hurler eventually signed a five-year, $110 million pact with the Toronto Blue Jays. That was a contract that the Giants could have certainly afforded but the front office was reluctant to hand out a long-term deal to a pitcher. To make matters worse, Gausman confirmed that the Giants did not even make him a legitimate offer.
The Giants cannot make that same mistake with Rodón. The veteran southpaw is coming off of one of his best seasons on the mound where he recorded a 2.88 ERA, 2.25 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, and a 4.56 SO/W ratio in 31 starts in the orange and black. He was one of the better pitchers in baseball and will have all of the leverage once free agency begins.
The Giants need to retain Rodón. They have the money to do it and Evan Webeck of the Mercury News reports that there is mutual interest in a reunion between him an the Giants. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was not necessarily as transparent when he was asked about Kris Bryant at the beginning of last offseason and he admitted that the Giants had other priorities to address before getting to Bryant.
When this offseason starts, re-signing Rodón should be the first priority. The Giants will have a small amount of leverage compared to other teams in that they will be able to offer the left-handed hurler a qualifying offer, which would attach draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Plus, some teams might be turned off by the fact that the hard-throwing lefty does not have the most durable track record. Rodón made over 30 starts for just the first time in his career in 2022 and he has made over 25 appearances in just two other seasons (2015 and 2016). The lefty underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2018 and he has battled shoulder problems in the past.
If there is a team that has an appetite for injury risk, it is the Giants. Much of their current rotation flags relatively high in injury risk, but that did not deter them when they were putting together the rotation.
The Giants have a decision to make on Rodón and it is a fairly obvious one. He will enter his age-30 season in 2023, meaning that he likely has several more good years remaining. San Francisco will need to buck the trend that they have set in recent seasons and invest to keep Rodón.